Last month I had to get a new passport because mine was set to expire 5 February 2013. Now, typically getting a new passport isn’t such a big deal. Fill out some forms, mail off your old passport and a few weeks (or more) later you have a new passport. Or, you could visit a passport center and get a new one if you’re in a rush and a have access to a passport center.
When you travel internationally for business as much as I do, mailing off for a renewal passport isn’t really an option. There’s no passport center where I live (sure, there are passport agencies, but they’re no quicker than the good old mail.) So I had to figure out how to renew.
I happened to be in New York and was lucky to get an appointment at the NY Passport Center. Easy enough, or so I thought. I got my passport, signed it and got ready for my next trip. Fast forward 2 weeks and I’m packing up for my trip to Hong Kong.
I went through security in Charleston and used my passport as ID. No problem. I went through LA security, no problem. It wasn’t until I got to Hong Kong that there was a little snag. The birthday in my passport didn’t match the birthday I wrote on my customs form – and the agent in Hong Kong noticed. I laughed and played it off saying, “oh, I’m not used to writing the date in the DD/MM/YY format. In the US we write our birth month first. And smiled” He looked for a few minutes and then waived me on. Phew! That was close.
So how the heck did my birthday get printed wrong on my Passport and why didn’t I check it! The truth is, I’m very used to using the DD/MM/YY format since I work with international offices only. I guess I’m so used to writing that way, that I filled out my forms wrong when I got the passport. Now, the bigger question is how did the woman at the passport center miss that? She noticed, and questioned, why I was only using my middle initial on my new passport and not my full middle name. She noticed that detail, but not the birthday? Okay, in fairness, I didn’t even look at my birthday on the passport and she must not have either.
I knew I had to get it fixed, and was worried that if it was wrong when I re-entered the US that the Global Entry Kiosks would reject it. So, I did the only thing I could do – I made an appointment at the US Consulate in Hong Kong. I filled out some more forms, explained the situation and paid another fee . Three days later, I had a new passport waiting for me at the Consulate. This time, the woman at the Consulate checked every single piece of data. I asked if that was standard and she said it was, but that sometimes people don’t pay close attention since they see so many. Uh, that’s not comforting.
Getting a new passport mid-trip was a bit complex. The Consulate explained that since my entry stamp was in the old passport – which they cancelled and returned to me – I’d have to show both the old, and the new passport at any borders. That really threw off some agents at the Macau border! I got a lot more questions than I ever have before. But, I’m very happy to have a corrected new passport in hand.
So with a new passport in hand, I’m taking a look back at where I’ve been and where I’m going – call it a bucket list retrospective.
Where I’ve been:
- Australia – I enjoyed Australia and had a great trip. The highlight was seeing the fireworks on NYE from the rooftop of the FourPoints Sheraton at Darling Harbour
- Belgium – I would love to visit when its not so cold. My trips have all be winter trips. I love walking through the old streets!
- Canada – I love Canada. I’ve been all over and return whenever I can. Whistler and Banff are two of my favorite spots.
- China – I’ve been to Macau and Hong Kong now. And I’m not sure I’m inspired to go back for vacation. I’m sure I’ll be back for work
- Fiji – I just loved Fiji! The people are wonderful and the island is beautiful
- France – great food!
- Germany – again, a place I’ve only visited when it’s freezing…in fact, once during a blizzard.
- Great Britain – I’ve been many, many times for vacation and business with lots more trips to come
- Israel – again, a place I’ve been to often since I have lots of family there
- Italy – been once to Rome, for two days, I would love to spend more time there!
- South Korea – one day isn’t really enough to know a place, but I’d love to get to know it better
- Mexico – in no hurry to go back!
- Morocco – I would love to go!
- Netherlands – I loved the tulips! I could visit the tulips anytime. The rest…eh…I wouldn’t rush back
- Singapore – I loved my first visit so much that I’m headed back in December
- Switzerland – I was there during Christmas a few years ago and it was so picture perfect!
- Turkey – shopping & fabulous food – enough said
- Thailand – I love Thailand so much I’ve gone every year for the past 4 years for vacation. I have also been for work a ton and will be back in October.
- Vietnam – I was there for 2 days a few years ago and can’t wait to head back in December
- 49 of 50 US States – I’m missing Iowa . My favorite state? Alaska!
Where I’m going:
I have trips currently planned to these places I’ve never been:
- Norway or Iceland – I want to see the Northern Lights again
- South Africa